US Government Personnel Told to Leave Haiti

US Government Personnel Told to Leave Haiti

Date:

The US State Department has ordered all non-emergency government employees along with their families to immediately leave Haiti, leading up to the United States 108th anniversary invasion of the island nation as well as the country’s inability to control violence, most notably kidnapping, which has severely crippled the nation.

“Kidnapping is widespread, and victims regularly include U.S. citizens. Kidnappers may use sophisticated planning or take advantage of unplanned opportunities, and even convoys have been attacked,” the State Department said in a travel advisory.

Why it Matters:

Prime Minister Ariel Henry previously called for international aid in the form of a “specialized armed force” last October to help control the widespread violence with support from both the United States and the United Nations, which calls the crisis a “human rights emergency.” Earlier this month, the UN Security Council requested that member states assist Haitian police “through the deployment of a specialized force, upon consultation with Haitian stakeholders.” However, no country has taken the lead in a foreign intervention, and many community leaders have expressed concerns and distaste at the idea, noting that previous foreign forces have brought more harm than good to the nation.

Many Haitians have been forced from their homes due both to rising crime rates and a series of natural disasters in 2021, including a 7.1-magnitude earthquake and Tropical Storm Grace, which have left thousands homeless and seeking asylum, most notably in America, which is home to an estimated 705,000 Haitian migrants as of 2020. Tensions culminated in 2021, when Texas Border Control was accused of whipping Haitian migrants as they attempted to cross the border. The charges were later dropped last year when the Biden Administration acknowledged that the border agents were falsely accused.

The Continuing Crisis:

Gangs have furthered their control over the nation’s capital city of Port-au-Prince, enjoying full control over the streets as well as seizing control over a critical fuel station earlier this year, which led to a health crisis as responders faced fuel and supply shortages. The violence has additionally impeded access to healthcare facilities, forced the closure of schools, and worsened already dire food insecurity by cutting residents of gang-controlled areas off from critical supplies. The crisis has been worsened further by the UN World Food Program‘s (WFP) reduction of the number of people receiving emergency food assistance due to a lack of funding, which has left an estimated 100,000 people without food. 

The crisis has led to the formation of a variety of different vigilante groups with the intention of fighting against the gangs, which has severely dropped the crime rate. One such group, known as “Bwa Kale,” or “peeled wood” in Haitian Creole, was formed after the lynching of at least a dozen gang members on April 24th after being intercepted by police.


Police take cover during an anti-gang operation (Photo – AP)

“This party didn’t have any long guns with them,” Louis-Henri Mars, director of the Haitian peacebuilding non-profit Lakou Lape, told CBC in May. “They only had pistols in their rucksacks, and when they were stopped, the police disarmed them.” A crowd quickly gathered at the scene.

“The police felt the pressure, or they felt threatened by the crowd, and they released those guys to die basically,” Mars continued. “And the crowd stoned them and burned them to death, and this was the start of it.”

The Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights (CARDH) has reported that at least 204 gang members have been lynched and burned alive in the country following Bwa Kale’s formation as of May.

Conclusion:

Haiti will likely continue to see violence until the international community takes serious action. As more displaced citizens escaping crime attempt to seek refuge, the escalating violence is projected to worsen the existing migrant crisis that the United States and Canada are already facing.

Trent Barr
Trent Barr
Trent Barr is the Latin America Desk Chief for Atlas News. He has years of experience and is trained in open source intelligence gathering. Trent Barr specializes in Latin American, German, and Vatican affairs while also holding an interest in Europe as a whole.
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